After a three-year absence from European competition, Fiorentina didn’t begin their 2013/14 Europa League home fixtures in the most promising fashion on 29 August, losing 1-0 in the second leg of the play-off against Grasshoppers.
Vincenzo Montella’s men had previously won 2-1 in the away leg, though, so Nassim Ben Khalifa’s goal at the end of the first half didn’t affect their progression to the group stage.
From there things got much better, beginning with a 3-0 win over Paços de Ferreira. Gonzalo Rodriguez, Ryder Matos and Giuseppe Rossi were the Viola men who sunk the Portuguese to get their Group E campaign off to a good start.
And they reached the same scoreline even quicker the next time they ran out at the Artemio Franchi against Pandurii Targu Jiu, Joaquin and again Matos netting the first two around the half-hour mark before Juan Cuadrado concluded the scoring midway through the second half.
The defeat they inflicted could have been heavier, too, had two other shots not bounced off the woodwork.
The victims of the Viola’s third consecutive win in the group stage of the competition were Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. The 2-1 comeback victory thanks to a brace from Cuadrado – one with his head and one the result of unstoppable dribbling – meant Montella’s men qualified for the next round at the top of Group E.
The second leg of that Round of 32 tie - Fiorentina’s most recent home outing in the Europa League - was an action-packed encounter against Esbjerg with 32 shots in total.
It eventually finished all square at 1-1, Josip Ilicic’s free-kick effectively sealing the Viola’s qualification for a meeting with Juventus following a 3-1 win over the Danes in the away leg.